TICKETS | DONATE | LISTEN | 612-722-2301


Devotion: Lean on Me

It’s such a privilege and honor for me to stand with you tonight in my home congregation, to sing in a renewed space that I happen to know every inch of. Zion is approaching its 145th anniversary, and has been a landmark church in an historic community.

Devotion: God Wants Us to Sing!

This devotion was given by NLC alto, Jenny Kelley, prior to our first tour concert in Mesa, Arizona.

God Wants Us to Sing! I think most singers know this. But did you know there are at least 50 exhortations to sing in the bible? Several are in Psalms, for example Psalm 100: Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.

How about Psalm 150 (paraphrased), Praise the Lord with trumpet, lute, harp, lyre, loud clashing cymbals, and I would add: piercing recorder, ethereal native flute, deep basses, colorful tenors, pure sounding sopranos, and my soul-singing sister altos. This one is my favorite, Psalm 104: I shall sing to the Lord as long as I live. In addition to these many exhorting passages, there are two instructive passages in the New Testament to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God and to each other. These are not requests, they are commands! For those who consider themselves non-singers, no matter, for God hears what no one else can: the singing in our hearts!

"Historical Trauma"

This devotion was given by NLC soprano, Sara Langworthy, prior to rehearsal on February 10, 2015. The choir has been preparing music for its Arizona Tour and upcoming concerts in Minnesota, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."

Many of you know that my day job involves working for the University of Minnesota to translate what science tells us about kids and families into usable information for people who work in fields of practice and policy. Recently, I’ve been working on a project creating three short videos on a concept researchers call “historical trauma.”

Devotion: The Heartbeat of the Message

This devotion was shared by NLC soprano Christina Myers before rehearsal on January 20th.

The Heartbeat of the Message

Devotion: Why Was I Given This Day?

This devotion was shared by NLC bass Tim Sheie prior to rehearsal on January 13th.

If you have not already encountered the Irish writer John O’Donohue, I recommend him to you.  From one of his meditations on blessing, let’s set aside tonight’s preparations for a moment, quiet ourselves down and reflect on the day:

Devotions: A Time for Thanks

This devotion was shared by NLC alto Eldri Wittkamper on November 25th, 2014.

It’s that time!  I’ve got my last minute list of preparations for the feast:  Make pumpkin pie & pecan pie and whip up a batch of “powdered pimpernels!”*   Then pack and head to Duluth for Thanksgiving.

Devotion: The Hopes and Fears of All the Years

This devotion was shared by NLC bass Paul Wilson prior to one of the Christmas Festival concerts in Saint Louis on December 20, 2014. 

"The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."

Throughout human existence fear and hope intersect - usually in that order.  One of these intersecting points occurred on Christmas Day in 1914, when the powerless front line soldiers in WWI did something the Great Generals of the time could not: make peace.

And in our own history and the history of our country, we find many of these intersecting points.  Fear; hope. 

Devotion: Slowing Down

This devotion was shared by NLC alto Colleen Schaefle prior to rehearsal on October 7, 2014. 

As some of you know, I’m an elementary music teacher, so I spend my day with little cherubs between the ages of 6 and 11. If you work with kids, you know that sometimes there are warm, wonderful, inspiring moments when you feel like you are the ultimate caregiver for literally every child on this planet, and other moments when you wonder what it’s like to have a job with all grown-ups, and where you don’t hear “booger,” “fart,” or “I’m telling!” nearly so often.

Devotion: God is in the Goosebumps

This devotion was shared by NLC alto Sarah Koepp prior to the All Saints Concert on November 1, 2014. 

I have been thinking about one of our themes for the year, “God is in the goose bumps.”  In other words, what really goes into the intersection between music and life’s holy moments? I’m in a profession where I’ve been blessed to experience many of life’s holy moments.  In fact, a chaplain at the hospital and I often have this discussion together.  He’s putting together a pilot project to make chaplain students more comfortable with singing and he’s asked me to help just sing through hymns as part of a large group.  

Devotion: Christmas is Waiting

This devotion was shared by NLC soprano Kate Tripoli prior to rehearsal on November 4, 2014. 


Devotion: Musical Metaphors

Special thanks to Michael Olsen, a tenor with the NLC, for this devotion from October 21, 2014.

I've heard of 2 musical metaphors for major life transitions:

1) Key changes.

If that's the case, my life will rival any contemporary Christian pop song, as I call them, with numerous and seemingly unnecessary key changes.

2) Symphony movements. (I kind of like this image a little better.) In that case I look forward to the next "Andante" movement to slow the pace of change.

Devotion: Into the presence of God

On September 23, 2014, long-time bass section member, Tim Sheie, shared this devotion prior to rehearsal. 

(addressing the Choir in American Sign Language):

A few of you know that I was teaching deaf students for ten years before my job changed and technology increased and things changed. ASL gives you the amazing ability to use phenomenally expressive language without any sound ... rich meaning without sound.

Devotion: A New Song Together

On Saturday, September 13, 2014, new and returning members of the National Lutheran Choir gathered for their first rehearsal of the 2014-15 season. Tenor section member, and Pastor at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in South Minneapolis, Joseph Crippen, led the devotion at the day-long retreat.

It is so good to be back together.

I think I remember a routine Bill Cosby used to have about when he was a kid, going out into the neighborhood at night, and humming a tune.  Because, if I remember right, he said “you need to have your music with you when the monsters are out.”

That’s what you all do for me.  I can sing just fine, but I can’t do by myself what we do together, not even close.  It’s not just that one person singing the tenor part doesn’t sound anything like this choir when we’re all together.  It’s deeper than that.  You sing with me, and I sing with you so we have our music when the monsters are out.  Because together the music we make is so much more powerful and life-changing.

Devotion: You Don't Have to Be Lutheran

The following devotion was shared by Tony Spain, a member of the National Lutheran Choir's tenor section, prior to one of the last rehearsals of the 2013-14 season. Tony describes his personal journey to find God and shares how the NLC is his "church."

This past weekend, I was down at Gustavus for an event and I was talking to someone who is planning to audition for NLC. He told me, “I was raised Lutheran, but I currently find myself in an unknown place when it comes to religion.” I told him that being Lutheran is not a requirement to sing in the choir. We have our tall handsome Catholics, and bright haired Presbyterians, and people who feel closer to God in a drum circle than in a pew. Then strangely, in a small bar in St. Peter, Minnesota, I found these words coming out of my mouth – describing my own faith journey and the integral part the National Lutheran Choir has played in that.

Devotion: To know, and be known

Before the choir's final performance together for the season, at the Festival of Homiletics in Minneapolis on May 19, 2014, bass Tim Sheie shared this devotion.

From Psalm 139: (the subtitle of the Psalm coincidentally reads: For the director of music. Of David)

You have searched me, Lord, 
and you know me.

Devotion: Cycles and Evolution

On Sunday, May 4, as we completed the cycle of our 28th season, NLC soprano Katherine Castille shared the following devotion with her fellow choir members.

“The world is round which means the place that seems like the end may be the beginning.” - Ivy Baker Priest

Devotion: Honoring a Pure Offering

This devotion was given by the National Lutheran Choir's bass section leader, Paul Wilson, on the evening of April 1, before rehearsal.

Have you ever given an offering to God?  An offering that is so personal, so private, so sacred that it creates a moment in time that can not be adequately explained to another?  An offering purely of humble thanksgiving, shared only between you and the Maker?

Devotion: Joy

This devotion was shared by NLC alto, Mary Kay Knapp, prior to rehearsal on March 18, 2014.

I considered a number of different topics for this devotional, and finally decided to talk about joy (or should I say “choy” to this group!).  It truly has been my joy to sing in the NLC this year, and I thank all of you who have whole-heartedly been a part of this remarkable, joyful year! 

Devotion: Roots

This devotion was shared by Zack Carlson, a first-year member of the National Lutheran Choir's bass section, before rehearsal on January 14, 2014. During this cold, dormant time of year, Zack invites his fellow singers to take time to reflect on their roots.

Devotion: Everyday Epiphanies

This choir devotion was shared by NLC soprano Sarah Bane at rehearsal on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. 

(Light candle to remind us that the Holy Spirit is always present, always revealing.)

Devotion: Pay Attention

On Saturday, December 14, before our final Christmas Festival performance at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis, Diane Fleming shared this devotion with the choir. Diane is the widow of Larry Fleming, founder of the National Lutheran Choir. She joins the choir every December to partake in the Christmas Festival as a member of the liturgical party.

Devotion: Hodie!

Prior to every performance, the choir gathers together and one of the members shares a devotion. Sometimes the topic is one of the compositions or the text, sometimes it is about centering on what is happening at that very moment. Tim Sheie, a member of the bass section, is frequently called upon to give the devotion. After arriving at the airport in the early hours of Saturday, December 21, 2013, the choir flew to St Louis, Missouri and then boarded buses that took the to Christ Church Cathedral.

2013 Christmas Festival memories

Merry Christmas! ​As President of the National Lutheran Choir board, I often joke about having the awesome powers to compel staff and board members alike to do my bidding. I claim to rarely abuse these powers, but this Christmas I gently insisted that board and staff members share their fondest memories from this year's Christmas Festival.

Devotion: Promise of Peace

At rehearsal on December 3, 2013, in preparation of our upcoming Christmas Festival concerts, tenor Peter Moberg shared a devotion that is both a meditation and a choral history lesson. 

Tonight I have a kind of combination devotion and choral history lesson.  I've shared this story before, but it's been a while.  In fact, the year was 2 BCE (Before the Cherwien Era.)  The occasion was a concert at Orchestra Hall under the direction of Karl Erickson.  So I guess it's been long enough.

Devotion: All Saints

Joseph Crippen, a tenor with the NLC, and also a pastor at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, shared this devotion before our All Saints concert on Sunday, November 3, 2013.

All Saints at Mount Olive is a holy day like no other.  We have, of course, other high holy days – Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, others – but there is something beautiful and holy about All Saints at Mount Olive that is its own joy and peace.  This morning, as I looked out into the congregation I saw the smiling face of David Cherwien, and it was good; it’s felt like a long time he’s been on sabbatical.  He has respected that sabbatical and he’s respected Bill, who’s filling in while he’s gone, and stayed away.  But when I spoke to him after the liturgy, what he said was, “There was nowhere else I could think of where I’d rather be than here today.”  I completely understand.

Devotion: All-Encompassing Saints

In preparation for our All Saints concerts this weekend, this devotion was shared by soprano Christina Myers at rehearsal on October 22, 2013.

Devotion: We Are One

Soprano, Kate Tripoli, shared this devotion about the unbelievable, yet scientifically proven, effects of singing at rehearsal on October 8, 2013.
Chances are that this summer you read about a recently published study on the biological effects of choral singing. I know a lot of us were sharing it on Facebook, and at the time, I said, "I wonder who will be the first person to use this in a devotion." Turns out, it's me. The following excerpts are courtesy of NPR.

DEVOTION: Finding the Center

At our rehearsal on Tuesday, October 1, 2013, alto Eldri Wittkamper shared this devotion with the choir:

DEVOTION: Choral Art

This devotion was shared by Tim Sheie, bass, before rehearsal this past Tuesday, September 24th.

Devotion: A Meditation on Beginnings

As the choir gathers to sing together, at the start of our 28th concert season, alto Jennifer Kelley shares a meditation on beginnings.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing;

     now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:19 ESV

Devotion: A Shared Experience

The following words were spoken prior to the June 24 rehearsal by Sarah Bane, a member of the soprano section.  

+ + +

One of the things I like most about our upcoming tour program is that it’s a straightforward Mass.  Wanting to know more about the history of the Mass, and its function within the Lutheran heritage, I did a little research – merely scratching the surface of what there is to know about “Mass.”

Devotion: Summer Camp

Before each National Lutheran Choir concert, a member or guest of the choir delivers a devotion. The following words were spoken prior to the June 26 rehearsal by Kaye Mills, a member of the alto section.  


The last time I gave a devotion it was probably when I was a camp counselor in college. My favorite devotion was to take the plastic holder of a 6 pack, cut it up to make one long strand of plastic and hang it from a metal hanger. It would be lit on fire over a bowl of water and we would watch the plastic light on fire, melt and drop into the bowl of water. There was conversation about the light with in us and how our light can hit others and ignite their light, but mostly it was just cool to watch and it had elements of a meditative experience.

Devotion: Jesus Christ Yesterday, Today and Forever

Here are the reflections spoken by Susan Palo Cherwien during the National Lutheran Choir's hymn festival on Friday and Sunday, May 3 and 5. Some variant of these reflections will also be part of the hymn festivals performed at Lutheran Summer Music (on Saturday, June 29 @ 7:30pm) and Association of Lutheran Church Musicians (on Monday, July 1 @ 7pm).

Notes from the Tenor Section

The tenors' section leader, Bob Quast, distributed a note to all of the tenors on the eve of the performance of Bach's Mass in b minor (March 21, 2013) to encourage them to open their eyes and ears and their hearts. A soft-spoken leader, Bob packs a punch whenever he has something to say. These words moved us to tears because his "favorite moments" were not about the tenor part but about everyone else. Generous, gracious, great: these are the words that describe the members of our National Lutheran Choir.



Devotion: In the shadow of the Cross

This is the devotion given by Tim Sheie prior to the 2 p.m. performance on Saturday, December 15 at Christ Church Cathedral. Each Christmas time, the National Lutheran Choir make a long day-trip to St Louis, Missouri to give two performances of its Christmas Festival. A little more than 24 hours earlier, news spread that a single gunman had forcibly entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, shot and killed 20 six- and seven-year-olds and six of their teachers. It is in this context that Tim offered this devotion.


Devotion: Spiritual Literacy

Before each National Lutheran Choir concert, a member or guest of the choir delivers a devotion. The following words were spoken prior to the December 7 4:30 p.m. Christmas Festival by Diane Fleming, widow of our founding director Larry Fleming. The saint she makes reference to in her devotion is Larry's mother who passed on Thanksgiving weekend this year. 


Devotion: Relationships with the saints in our lives

This devotion was shared on October 20th prior to our performance with the Milwaukee Choral Artists at Concordia University-Wisconsin in Mequon WI. Tim Sheie is a long-time member of the bass section.

Well...most of us in the room right now have to admit something - we're choir geeks. It finally dawned on me last week as I boarded a Southwest flight from Denver and the gate agent was scanning boarding passes. As each one was accepted - I recognized the pitch of each of the beeps: B...B...B...

Devotion: Carrying traditions to the next generation

Prior to a tour performance at Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, IL, NLC bass Paul Wilson gave a devotion. Portions of the program will be given at a pair of performances in the Twin Cities on November 3 & 4, 2012. For more information and to purchase tickets, call the NLC office at 612.722.2301 or look here.


Devotion: Tim Schmidt - September 18, 2012

Recently as part of a leadership conference Richard Davis, CEO of U.S. Bank, spoke to us about the importance of storytelling. In an industry that is driven by numbers like banking you may think where does story telling fit in. Richard says it could not be more important now than anytime other in our careers to be able to tell our story.  It is what will help rebuild confidence and faith in the banking profession, a profession that at its core is trust and belief.

The Christian Preamble

The Christian Preamble

In Thanksgiving to God for the gift of life in baptism and for the many blessings which have sustained us; and

In Thanksgiving to God for the gifts of faith and hope through Jesus Christ; and

In Thanksgiving to God for the gifts of nurture and love through the Church where we have shared faith and fellowship,

We now respond…

Devotions - Thank You

This devotion was given by Ryan Luhrs, a member of our choir, prior to the last performance of the 2011-12 Season — a hymn festival, the culminating event of the 2012 Chorus America national conference, at Central Lutheran Church (Minneapolis MN).

I am a bit hesitant to give a devotion because the last time I did, I was later asked – without warning and during a concert – to publicly recall information about Jean Berger’s original last name.  I’m assuming and hoping that won’t happen today.

Since this is likely my only chance to do so, I want to take a minute and thank David and the choir for impact you’ve had in my life, and the past two years, that Sarah and I have been able to share in this experience together.   This choir profoundly influenced my life – and did so even before I joined.

Devotions - Authenticity

Before every rehearsal and performance, a member of the National Lutheran Choir gives a devotion. Paul Wilson (bass-baritone) recently gave this devotion to the choir. This devotion was given before our collaborative concert at King of Kings Lutheran Church (Woodbury) with the vocal ensemble, Cantus. Paul is a former founding member of Cantus.

Our search for authenticity

NLC Devotions

This most recent devotion comes from Ryan Luhrs, a member of our choir, and was given last Sunday. This most recent entry begins an effort to collect and make available regular devotionals from choir members and friends of the choir. Enjoy!